The influence of smell on the human senses and well-being is very strong. How is it that we can smell? What mechanisms in our body decide on it?
Apart from the art of perfumery and the skill of composing unforgettable fragrance compositions, for years the very mechanism of the sense of smell remained a mystery for us. Sight, touch, taste, hearing, smell – thanks to them that we perceive the world and its elements in a certain way. In our subjective feeling, we perceive the elements of reality that surround us as beautiful, intriguing, attractive… or on the contrary. So how do we distinguish smells?
How important is the smell – the wisdom of nature
By analyzing the fascinating world of nature, you can discover how important the sense of smell is among animals. In many cases, it is a sense necessary for their survival. It allows them to recognize individuals from your own herd, but also to detect strangers. It allows them to find food, recognize edible and poisonous plants, find water, and – the right path. The smell also lets animals recognize diseases or abnormalities in other organisms. Hence, thanks to the use of the sense of smell, for example, trained dog assistants are able to predict the upcoming attack of the disease of their guardian. On the basis of the analysis of the meaning of this sense in the natural world, it is assumed that the smell is one of the oldest senses.
Scientific research on the nature of the fragrance
The breakthrough in understanding the sense of smell was the research of Linda Buck and Richard Ax. Although we associate scent by its nature with something very ephemeral and fleeting, this is where hard science comes into play. Their research was carried out with the use of modern methods of molecular biology and the findings relate to the mechanism of odor molecules detection by the olfactory system. The researchers were awarded with the highest scientific distinction for this discovery, they received the Nobel Prize in 2004.
Linda Buck and Richard Ax paid particular attention to the extraordinary sensitivity of the olfactory receptors that pick up odor signals. It turned out that although we may not feel it on a daily basis, our sense of smell is more sensitive than our eyesight! Our noses, or rather brains, can distinguish about 10,000 separate smells, and this ability is literally written in our genes. The research determined that as much as 3% of the entire human genome are genes responsible for coding olfactory proteins, there is no other, equally numerous group in our genetic formula focused on a common task. It also underlines the importance of scent – and the sense of smell in nature.
How we smell fragrances
So what does the whole process of smelling look like?
> Fragrances go to the olfactory receptors (which we have in the epithelium of the nasal cavity and the respiratory system)
> Receptors recognize individual substances and then encode them
> The information about the scent encoded in this way travels via the nervous system to the brain
> The brain reads the information about the smell provided to it in an encrypted form and thus we know if and how we smell something
It is not that simple, and although it lasts an imperceptible moment – it affects us for a long time. Find out more about how a fragrance affects your well-being!
Nature fascinates us – also the nature of the fragrance, and what how about you? Get to know it better with COLABO!